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Overview

Important Features of Health Statistics and Data Sets

Health Data on the Web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important Features of
Health Statistics and Data Sets

The Importance of Health Data

Health statistics and data are important because they measure a wide range of health indicators for a community. A community can be the entire United States, a region, state, county, or city. Health data provide comparisons for clinical studies, can be used to assess costs of health care, can help identify needed prevention targets for such programs as Healthy People 2010, and are important for program planning and evaluation by finding a baseline against which to measure in the evaluation phase.

The Context of Health Statistics

Health statistics are influenced by an organization’s perspective and bias. These biases can affect the collection device and eventual outcomes that are reported. They also can determine what data are collected and how the data are collected. Whenever possible, read the notes describing the reasons for and methods of data collection. Remember that statistics are collected to meet the needs of the collector.

The populations covered by different data collections systems may not be the same. Data on vital statistics and national expenditures cover the entire population. Most data on morbidity and utilization of health resources cover only the civilian non-institutionalized population.

Some information is collected in more than one survey and estimates of the same statistic may vary among surveys. For example, the National Health Interview Survey, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Monitoring the Future Survey, and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey all measure cigarette use. But estimates of cigarette use may differ among these surveys because of different survey methodologies, sampling frames, questionnaires, definitions, and tabulation categories.

Key Features of Health Statistics

Health statistics are population based, and many are collected and analyzed over time. Statistics often use geographic regions such as zip codes for determining health care coverage and comparisons of specific disease occurrences. Most studies focus on variation over time, space, and social group.

Health Statistics Come from Diverse Sources

Many studies use administrative data. Administrative data, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), include enrollment or eligibility information, claims information, and managed care encounters. The claims and encounters may be for hospital and other facility services, professional services, prescription drug services, laboratory services, or other services.

Surveys are designed to collect specific data and are often conducted by trained personnel who administer them by telephone or in-person.

CDC states that public health surveillance is the systematic collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of health data on an ongoing basis, to gain knowledge of the pattern of disease occurrence and potential in a community in order to control and prevent disease in the community.


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